Trusting in God's grace with the help of Mary

William Patenaude

In recognition of Bishop Tobin’s call for a Year with Mary Our Mother on this the centennial of the Marian apparition at Fatima, I posted on my blog that those involved in ecological protection would do well to consecrate our efforts to the Blessed Mother.

If there is one message at the core of ecological pursuits, it’s that humanity needs a change of heart if we’re going to nurture cultures that respect life—human and otherwise—and indeed all of God’s creation.

Mary, the Mother of God—the creature whose assent allowed the Creator to save humanity from within—desires that we all attain the grace to grow in the virtues that save souls, and, as it turns out, ecosystems.

In the second chapter of John’s gospel, Mary comes to the aid of a family hosting a wedding. The wine has run out—an embarrassment to be sure. Mary turns to the only person who can make things right. She approaches her son and tells him “they have no wine.” Jesus seems to resist at first, but Mary pays no heed. She instructs the servers to “do whatever he tells you,” for even she does not know what actions he will take.

Jesus the Christ and loyal son has the servers fill jars with water. Without fanfare or fantastic flashes of light, a miracle takes place inside those jars. There is a transformation that was not for the eye to see. Water becomes wine, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the needs of a family are met.

No wonder, then, Catholics have always flown to Mary to ask that, as she did in Cana, she might make some request to her Son on our behalf—so that we may be similarly changed within, our nature elevated.

Given the inner transformations needed individually and globally to change our ways for the protection of human life and all of creation, we would all do well to stay close to Mary.

This is especially so in our age. We live in a culture that puts too much emphasis on human activity and not enough on God’s grace. Moreover we often forget that while God is infinitely merciful, he allows the consequences of our bad behavior to reverberate through space, time, and other people’s lives.

One may forgive a polluter for dumping toxins into water supplies, but that forgiveness does not undo the deadly harm unleashed by those toxins. The laws of nature are stubborn that way. And so we’re better off going about our business without violating them.

The same is true for natural law. We may seek forgiveness for ourselves and we may offer it to others when we live counter to the natural way of things. But in the end, we and everyone else are better off when we build cultures that are aligned with the natural law rather than constantly responding to the damage of bad choices.

Mary’s cooperation with the will of God is an eternal lesson in how to live well through virtuous choices, as difficult as that can be for you and me in this fallen world. She teaches us especially how to trust in God’s grace and in his laws—those of the physical world and the moral one.

Who better, then, to entrust our causes for life, all life, than to her—the Mother of God?

Mary, Queen of Heaven, Help of Christians, Cause of Our Joy, Refuge of Sinners, Mother of the Poor, Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us and for the whole world.

William Patenaude, M.A., KHS, is an engineer with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and is a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. He is a parishioner of Saint Joseph Parish, West Warwick, and writes at